I’m writing this reflection at Wellington airport after a day with an inspiring group, reflecting together on Pope Francis’ liturgy letter Desiderio Desideravi published in June of last year. It’s my role with the National Liturgy Office that leads me, along with the NLO co-director Catherine Gibbs, to offer these formation sessions across the country.
That document title Desiderio Desideravi is a challenging tongue twister. I’ve practiced saying it aloud and every now and then can fluke it right. But more often I stumble and settle for the English translation which is the words of Jesus speaking at the Last Supper: “I have greatly desired to eat this Passover with you”.
Then to make the point in the session I stressed that this is not me saying to Jesus I want to eat with you, but Jesus saying to me I really really really want to eat with you John.
Wow. That is profound. In short it’s not about me and what I want – but its about Jesus is desiring me.
Take a moment to let that sink in. Perhaps say aloud now: This is Jesus speaking to you (add your own name). I want to eat with you. I want to chat with you. I really want to spend time with you (add your own name again).
Now repeat those words of Jesus to you.
Now say it again for a third time.
I’m in the airport waiting at the gate and feeling a bit self-conscious so I’m whispering this new mantra very quietly, but I think I’m still getting the point.
Today’s scriptures for the First Sunday of Lent do have a focus on sin entering the world and the temptations of Jesus, and no doubt most homilies today will focus on these themes – my temptations and my sins. But the deeper invitation is to focus not on ourselves or anything we have done bad or good, but on Jesus who really really really wants to eat to us, to chat with us, to spend time with us.
I’m looking around now at the other travellers waiting for their flights. I can’t begin to imagine the complex situations they are travelling too or from, or the stuff that is keeping each of them awake on an evening flight.
Imagine if we all digested the fact that…
…The Lord God fashioned humans of dust from the soil. Then breathed into their nostrils a breath of life, and thus each human became a living being.
And that’s how I came to be, not because of my desire or my work but because of the desire of the divine who really really really wanted to embrace me eternally.